According to a recent report, the 14 year old relic of a site, Drudge Report, is the #2 source of traffic to all major news sites; referring 7% of all traffic to major news sites. Here is the breakdown:
#1 Google - refers 30% of all traffic to major news sites #2 Drudge Report - refers 7.7% of all traffic to major news sites #3 Facebook - refers 3.3% of all traffic to major news sites
The Drudge Report site now pulls in 30+ million visits every 24 hours. How is it that such a bare site run by one guy gives more traffic to major news publications than 600 million users on Facebook. A recent NYTimes article gave a few explanations:
The genius of Drudge is the simplicity of the layout. Everyone else who tries to knock him off complicates that. There's no tabs. There's no jumps. There's hardly any clutter, even if he now runs more headlines than he used to. He's secure enough in the formula that he's never changed it.
Behemoth aggregators like Yahoo News and The Huffington Post have become more like fun houses that are easy to get into and tough to get out of. Most of the time, the summary of an article is all people want, and surfers don't bother to click on the link. But on Drudge Report, there is just a delicious but bare-bones headline, there for the clicking. It's the opposite of sticky, which means his links actually kick up significant traffic for other sites.
The gist of the explanation NYTimes offers is that most of the major news sites have a hard time understanding that bare bones simplicity is what readers want. Most of news sites opt for continuous and expensive redesigns and overhauls. Can't help but wonder if a site like Drudge would do equally as well if it was launched today vs. 14 years ago.